I’ve been a fan of Scott Snyder’s run on Justice League for some time and when I found out Action Comics was tying into the “Justice/Doom War” story arc I just had to pick it up. How does Leviathan tie into Lex Luthor’s plan? In an issue that takes place before Justice League #39, Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. show us a little meeting before the Lex vs. Justice League battle.
This is an oddly timed book. Releasing the same week Scott Snyder finishes his Justice League story places this a bit late, especially since the Lex battle is already over. In some ways, it reads like Bendis and Romita Jr. are trying to get in on the big fight by integrating Leviathan in a much too heavy-handed way. Scheduling can sometimes junk up when a book should have been released, although the purpose of this book makes the timing all the more strange.
The book opens with Lex looking at the reveal of who Leviathan is after being unmasked. Soon Leviathan is showing up to parlay with, as the caption on the first page calls them, the “greatest criminal super-team of all time.” The moniker for the team is worth noting because there are multiple instances where Leviathan is proved to be superior to the other villains in the room by the other villains themselves, either by his technology that impresses Brainiac or that he knows weaknesses of these villains, like Sinestro, that they haven’t even heard of.
By the end of the issue, it’s rather clear this book serves as a means to prop up Leviathan as a villain that matches or even outmatches most of the villains on the Legion of Doom. Unfortunately, it’s not done in an earned way, but instead, sort of told to us by reducing the other villains in the room. We get to see Leviathan push back on an attack by Brainiac, but mostly it’s told rather than shown he is stronger than most of these characters.
It’s also oddly timed as the depiction of Leviathan as more powerful than most of the Legion of Doom seems to suggest maybe Perpetua had the wrong guy in putting faith in Lex Luthor? In a sense, it reduces the stakes of “Justice/Doom War” by revealing Lex and the Legion of Doom weren’t the best options for her plans. Leviathan seems to have more vision than Lex in the big reveal of Leviathan Island, too. It’s an odd book from an editorial standpoint.
This book does do some work with Red Cloud that adds a new layer to the Justice League vs. Lex battle. Again though, it reads like too little too late since this character didn’t factor into the actual fight in Justice League #38. It’s an effective layering to prop up what Bendis is doing with the character, though. It does come off as strange that Lex is all-in on Leviathan’s plan to Red Cloud. Maybe it’s a red herring or a diversion though.
I’m a fan of Romita Jr.’s art which continues to be quite cool in its unique look and feel. I was a bit confused by his depiction of Cheetah as an actual cheetah, but beyond that the dynamic 3D feel of his work comes out well here. He uses an interesting panel border style that gives the book a more certain feel. There are a few cutaway shots of villains looking at villains that capture the humor in the moments, too.
Overall, this issue feels heavy-handed. It has a mission and gets it done, but in a way that seems to reduce the Legion of Doom in order to prop up Leviathan in an unearned way. Instead of building up the character by showing, we’re meant to believe he’s more powerful than most of these villains. This further reduces Perpetua’s plan since she chose Lex when this issue seems to suggest Leviathan was the superior villain.